To describe the work of Chicago-based artist and photographer Brandon Aguilar with a few words is particularly difficult. Brandon is such a talented and creative person that he makes it hard for us to give his work a pinpoint description. What we do know is that we're digging his creative and generous spirit along with his positive outlook in life.
He is such a passionate soul who believes in the analogue process so much that he would endorse shooting with film to anyone in a heartbeat. Without further ado, we present to you Brandon Aguilar.
Hello, Brandon. Welcome to the Lomography Online Magazine! How did you get started on your photographic journey?
Thank you so much for having me. I love every inch of what Lomography is and the community it has become. This is truly an honor. Thank you.
It all started about eight years ago when I was simply scrolling through some social media platforms and witnessed photography as an art form very first time. What surprised me the most was that it was coming from my peers... acquaintances... people who I wouldn’t quickly assume to be “artistic” yet they had something there. Something that spoke... something that was different.
It may sound silly but due to my curious nature and well, maybe a bit of competitiveness, I wanted to see if I could produce something like that, too. I knew I had things to say but I just unsure about how. Next thing I remember... that big red alert displaying from my bank. I maxed out my credit card for a Canon Rebel T2i.
A few more months went by and I passed a Canon AE-1 at the local antique store. I think to myself, “Wait a second, this looks WAY cooler than the camera I have now. Oh, it takes film? I think I have some of that lying around.” The rest is history. Sold the T2i soon after. There just wasn't any comparison when it came to the feeling of shooting film.
How would you define photography?
Like many, I would define photography as the truth... but also art’s greatest lie. It’s a rare art form where the viewer will only take seconds to decide which one they want it to be and will stick with it. I find it truly fascinating that it is sometimes used for deception… for how you wish life could be.
What's your favorite thing about it?
Personally, my favorite thing about it is being able to reminisce. It is such a high level of documentation. I get a great high from remembering the past and seeing how much has changed. All of its positives and even the negatives.
We love how you incorporate nature and color into your shots. Everything seems to go well together. Was this a style you were going for?
Thank you! It was never my intention to shoot so much nature. It’s funny, I’ve been asked a question like this before and people find it hard to believe that I live in Chicago. A metropolis doesn’t exactly make you think of nature and colors... maybe a lot concrete and grays. I suppose it all boils down to my roots. Growing up, I spent a great deal outside. Even well into my teens. Nature is what makes me happy as well as bright, vivid colors. (You should see some of the shirts I own!)
Another thing we noticed in your work is your creative use of light (both natural and artificial) and different film effects. What is it about these two elements do you particularly like?
I like that it makes shooting feel like a gamble. I think a lot of people underestimate the versatility of film and treat it too delicately... Or that a certain film stock has been used for certain situations. That’s silly to me. I learned early on that you can take any type of film and make it look like another just by the type of light you use. The most exciting part is knowing that each film responds differently to it. With the number of films out there today and the infinite amount of light sources, the possibilities are endless. I get jacked up just thinking about it!
Why shoot film? What pushes you to stay analogue in this digital world?
I would love to jump into this and say that everybody should be shooting film but I understand how impractical that would be. An analogue way of shooting either resonates with you or it doesn’t. Each time the shutter on my film camera fires, I’m reassured that I’m making the right choice. It feels right. Like many, I am addicted to the process and how sensational yet incredibly time-consuming it is. For me, the process ends when I put my freshly dried negatives onto the scanner after hours of preparation. Bottom line: It takes work. Great things require work.
We also learned that you are working on a lens accessory called Spektrem Effects. Please talk about it.
I would love to! Thank you for giving me the chance to talk about it. Spektrem Effects is a brand new project I have started that produces camera accessories to boost creativity. We launched with one single product, a creative filter that renders light much like a prism would but with an emphasis on accessibility. After many and I mean MANY failed prototypes, we finally figured something out that produced consistent results. To our surprise, the results were greater than anything we could have imagined. I can’t even describe it to you. You’ll just have to check it out. If you like colors, you’ll like this. I’m hoping this first product fuels more products in the future. You won’t believe what I have cooking.
What would you say are the biggest challenges you faced in your artistic career?
My biggest challenges have been to stop complaining and making excuses. I used to treat every day the same and constantly say that I don’t have enough time to shoot or that the weather isn’t very good... stuff like that. Honestly, it would eat away at me when I didn’t pick up my camera for a few days.
I knew something had to change. I needed to gain some perspective. Like a lot of people, I work 8 hours a day at my day job. From when I wake up, I usually have about 5 hours before work, and a few hours before bed. That’s about 8 hours wasted each and every day. I had no right to ever say that I don’t have enough time. That was the wake-up call I needed and now I produce something every single day.
What inspires you to create?
On a macro level: Love.
On a micro level: My friends, my family. Life.
How does a perfect day look like for Brandon Aguilar?
The perfect day for me is doing exactly what I want and not having anybody tell me what to do. It sounds simple but I rarely have days like that. That’s part of the hustle. One day, that will be my every day.
Lastly, what's next for you?
I plan to keep working on my own personal work as well as overseeing operations for Spektrem Effects. Another huge goal of mine is to create content for photographers to help them get out of their creative ruts. I’ve been making a series of 30-second videos that highlight techniques that can be accomplished by any skill level. Perfect for eliminating those excuses.
I also want my personal work to bring more value to my following. Eventually, I want each piece of work to be documented and presented. I want people to care more about how the photo was taken instead of just seeing the end result. Everyone tries to be so secretive about their process. Not me. I want you to know exactly what I did, how I did it and try it yourself.
We would like to thank Brandon for letting us feature his work on the Magazine. If you're interested in his images, you may head over to his Instagram for more.